Duke Among Best Workplaces In Higher Education

Duke earned high marks for its commitment in five workplace categories

Nicole Brooks, a staff assistant for the CEO of the Duke Credit Union, said she's thankful for Duke workshops that taught her about teamwork.
Nicole Brooks, a staff assistant for the CEO of the Duke Credit Union, said she's thankful for Duke workshops that taught her about teamwork.

For the fourth consecutive year, Duke has been named as one of the best colleges in the country to work for by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Duke was also named to the 2011 Honor Roll as one of the institutions recognized the most in its size category.

After an independent survey of employees for the 2011 "Great Colleges to Work For" program, Duke earned high marks for its commitment in five workplace categories. Duke was among colleges highlighted for programs and achievements in:

  • Professional/career development programs (Employees given opportunity to develop skills and understand requirements to advance in careers).
  • Facilities, workspaces and security (Facilities adequately meet needs, appearance of campus is pleasing and the institution takes steps to provide a secure environment).
  • Job satisfaction (Provides insight into satisfaction with job fit, autonomy, resources).
  • Work/life balance (Policies give employees flexibility to manage personal lives).
  • Supervisor/department chair relationship (Supervisor makes expectations clear, solicits ideas).

This year, 310 colleges participated in the program, and Duke was one of 111 institutions that received recognition in various categories.

"As a community, Duke is committed to a set of core principles that allow us to pursue a positive work culture," said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president of Administration. "Being named among the best workplaces in higher education by the Chronicle is a wonderful recognition and validation that we are focusing on the right areas."

Richard K. Boyer, principal and managing partner of ModernThink LLC, the firm that administered the survey, said Duke was recognized as a great college in part for its breadth of professional development programs that have been around since 2003. He said Duke's Professional Development Institute and Leadership Academy set it apart.

Through its Learning and Organization Development unit, Duke also offers a variety of classes that focus on work skills, management development and computer technology.

Nicole Brooks, a staff assistant for the CEO of the Duke Credit Union, took a workshop on fostering teamwork.

"It's important that I continue to take courses because they assist with my personal and professional growth and self development," she said. "When I look at the list of courses that are offered I can see how everyone at Duke can benefit from them, and I think Duke sees the same thing."

In addition to advancing workplace skills, Duke was also highlighted for its commitment to faculty and staff outside the workplace. Benefits include paid parental leave, tuition reimbursement, wellness programs and flexible work options. Specifically, Duke was recognized in the work/life balance category.

"My daily exercise routine would not be possible without the excellent fitness facilities that are accessible and available to employees on the Duke campus," said Sue Wasiolek, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students. "Whether it is Brodie or Wilson recreation centers, the Wallace Wade track, the East Campus wall or the Al Buehler Cross Country Trail, Duke offers something for everyone at all hours of the day."  

Boyer, the managing partner of the survey firm, said Duke separates itself from other colleges because of its focus on the employee experience. He added that the fact Duke has been highlighted four straight years means that Duke is committed to being a great workplace.

"Even in a down economy when many colleges are freezing salaries or having layoffs, employees still find good in their work," said Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education. "Great workplaces are about more than dollars and cents."